If you’re in nursing school (or college), you’ll likely be taking a lot of notes in your lecture classes. Many students struggle when it comes to note-taking. However, it’s crucial that you take good notes if you want to be able to review the material and properly prepare for your exams.
In this article (and video), I’ll share some basic tips that nursing students and college students can use to improve their note-taking techniques. These tips will enable you to get the most out of taking notes.
How to Take Notes in Nursing School
Here are the tips you want to use when taking notes in college:
Choose Your Methods Carefully
There are generally three ways in which students take notes: They use some technology (laptop, tablet, etc.), they do it by hand (notebook paper and a pencil or pen), or they have fill-in-the-blank PowerPoint notes (usually provided by the instructor).
If you have a strong preference to using a particular method (such as a laptop), then go ahead and stick with that method. However, the best method is to do it the old fashioned way: taking notes by hand.
First, you’ll avoid the problems of a technology failure (battery dying, etc.). Second, actually writing the words (as opposed to typing), will lay a foundation to help you remember.
The only downside is that some people have very messy handwriting. If that’s the case, you may want to use another method (or improve your writing skills).
Sit at the Front of the Class
If you have any hearing or vision problems, sit as close to the front of the classroom as you can. This way, you’ll be able to read the board or presentation, and you’ll also be able to hear your professor more clearly.
Don’t Write Word-for-Word
There’s no need to write everything a teacher says. For example, if the teacher says, “Now we’re going to talk about the muscle system. There are three types of muscle in the human body: skeletal, smooth, and cardiac.
All you need to write is this: 3 muscle types: skeletal, smooth, cardiac.
It’s short, sweet, and to-the-point.
Use Colored Pens or Highlighters when Reviewing
Some students like to use a color-coded pen system when reviewing or rewriting notes. My wife would sometimes like to do this. However, as a guy, I would use a highlighter to emphasize key concepts. Alternatively, you can also use a simple system of underlining or circling to emphasize points.
Pay Attention to Things Teachers Emphasize
Whenever a teacher says the phrase, “This is important, you may see this again,” That’s teacher talk for, “This will be on your test. Learn it!” So be sure to highlight, underline, or mark any concepts, definitions, or diagrams the teacher references in this way.
Create a Date and Headings for all Notes
It is absolutely vital that you properly label your notes. Otherwise, you’re going to have a mess when it comes time to study them. Here’s what you need to do every time you take notes:
- Put the date at the top of the page
- Put your name on the page (just in case they get lost)
- Put a page number on the page (1, 2, etc.)
- Write the exam the notes will correspond to (exam 1)
- Write a heading that describes the content of the notes (Muscular System)
After the professor completes the notes for a given exam, staple all of those notes together to create a single “study packet.” This way, you’ll have them all organized and you’ll know exactly what you need to study.
Review or Rewrite Your Notes After Class
Studies show that you’ll forget the majority of what you’ve learned in lecture class if you don’t review it within 24 hours. Therefore, it makes sense to either review your notes or rewrite them later on that same day.
Depending on your learning preference, you may want to simply say them aloud, rewrite them, or even redraw diagrams.
Organize Your Notes into a Folder
We’ve written an article (and created a video) on staying organized in nursing school, but it is important that you create a folder or binder system so that you have one folder (or binder) for each class. You then need to place your syllabus, notes, and other materials in this folder so that you can stay organized.
Conclusion: Take Notes Efficiently for Success
Taking notes isn’t rocket science, but there are some things you want to do to make sure you stay organized and efficient. I hope these nursing school note-taking tips have helped you!